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The Union of Myanmar Tourism Association is worried foreign tourists visiting Myanmar could lose their way due to a lack o signposts.

Myanmar Business Today, Wednesday, ran the news snippet quoting UMTA central executive committee member, Aunt Myat Kyaw, saying international tourists ,who travel by themselves, face considerable inconvenience as there are not enough signs pointing the way to tourist attractions.

“Once foreign tourists leave the major tourist destinations they will not find signposts written in English… there are few signpost even in our own language in some places,” the association chief commented.

Travellers who use a travel agency service have no worries. They are guided efficiently from one attraction to another, without really knowing the exact locations.

Individual tourists have to find their own way and they may find it quite difficult to obtain a reliable map. The association claims signposts in English would help.

Even in some of the most popular destinations, such as Bagan and Mandalay, there are few signposts on routes to tourist attractions.

Also, detailed maps of destinations are not freely available. Often, hotels provide guests photo copies of a map, or the maps provided are so crammed with advertising they serve no useful purpose for a serious traveller.

Commenting on the lack of signposts a tour operator based in Yangon said authorities had already installed more signposts at popular tourist destinations such as Yangon and Mandalay, but there was still room for improvement.

“It is not a top priority… the country is struggling with much more important issues linked to the tourism boom such as a lack of infrastructure and the need to improve airports, upgrade bus fleets and improve guide training.,” the agent told TTR Weekly.

Also, there have been recommendations to standardise signposts for tourism purposes possibly by adding both English and Chinese.

Giving them a distinct background colour would make them easy to see and read.

But signposts or not, the dramatic shift to smart phones use in Myanmar and the easing of telecom regulations will eventually make the old-fashioned map and even signposts irrelevant.

Our phones already tell us where we are and in tech savvy destinations, Google Maps shows us the way to the next attraction identify the shortest route, transport options and places to shop and eat on the way. It could even make the old-fashioned tour guide redundant.

Independent travellers are already using city Apps that show the way to all the main attractions. They provide accurate explanations in your own language once you arrive and clear directions to the next attraction within walking distance. If you need to hail a taxi the directions in a local language can be shown to the driver.

Signposts help in places beyond the range of mobile phone signals, but for most travellers visiting Myanrnar they will be happy with their 4G and live map cover that shows their present location. What ever happened to the fun of getting lost?

Last year, Myanmar reported a tourism increase 51%0 with 3.08 millmillion visits and USD1,789 million in revenue.

Source : Traveller (From Sept 21 to Sept 27 )Vol 3, No 15